History Lesson: Music department honors ancestors

Students gathered in Lee Hall auditorium Wednesday to hear the toe-tapping, hip-swinging tunes of Florida A&M University’s Department of Music as it presented its annual black history concert.

The University’s music department presented the concert as a celebration of not only Black History Month, but the lives of black people and the vibrant elements of life celebrated centuries ago using spiritual jazz and gospel selections.

An oration of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech was given by James Moran, who gained the attention of many students as they listened to the words that helped lead to the end of inequality.

Akuawana Sesler, 19, a sophomore, criminal justice student from Wildwood, said the “I Have a Dream” skit was her favorite part of the program. Sesler said the skit was very interesting and catching because the orator, Moran, sounded similar to the audios that she has heard of King.

Many of the students and faculty members who participated in the program dressed in some form of African attire to add to the celebration.

They played old hymns, such as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” and “Amazing Grace,” as well as tunes from a collection of African folk songs called Imbizo.

A musical selection by the University’s gospel choir left students speechless as they gave a standing ovation to the choir that sang with praise and worship.

“It was a good experience because I’m not into that type of music,” Sesler said. “I decided to go because a friend asked me to go with her, but I would go again alone.”

Aireus Thomas, 21, a junior music education student from DeLand, said this year’s concert had more performances in comparison to the others. Thomas said the program turned out great.

The concert allowed students, like Sesler, the opportunity to appreciate the foundation of today’s music, as well as the talents of black composers who paved the way for many of the modern-day artists.

“I feel that as a historically black college, we hold a reflection of our ancestors. As music majors, we offer our music,” Thomas said. “Looking at the past, what a big step it is for African-Americans to write and compose music and for their children and great grand-children to perform it.”